I have written to Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss MP warning her not to reduce public sector pay rises in the regions in next week’s budget.

After reports that Ms Truss has proposed lower public sector pay rises in the regions than in London and the South East, I have urged the Treasury not to pursue a policy that would be unfair to public sector staff across the country and run counter to Government policy and Conservative Manifesto Commitments, as well as further undermining the Northern Powerhouse agenda.

In my letter to Ms Truss, who is number two at the Treasury, I drew attention to the commitment made in the Government’s Estates Strategy published in July to “improve opportunity outside of London” as well as the 2017 Conservative Election Manifesto, which stated that “we will start moving significant numbers of UK Government civil servants and other public servants out of London and the south-east to cities around the UK”. Public sector pay should be more competitive in the regions given that it is rightly Government policy to increase civil service presence and create more opportunity there.

Liz Truss has got this badly wrong. It’s an insult to staff outside London who have faced the same pressures on family budgets due to the public sector pay freeze, and runs counter to Government policy. It also exposes the difference between the rhetoric and the reality. The Government say that they want to increase the civil service presence outside of London, but reducing the pay offer compared with the capital cuts across that aim. Developing an ambitious strategy to spread opportunities across the country would not only save money, but widen the talent pool the Government draws from. I urge the Treasury to ditch this short-sighted proposal.

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